How to Create a Realistic Crack Effect on a Face
Today we will learn an easy way to add crack effects to your images. We will only need a couple of textures and our Photoshop brushes to obtain a realistic end result. This tutorial is split into 9 easy-to-follow steps, with some basic Photoshop features carefully explained. Give a try!
The inspiration behind this design derives from the Black Swan movie poster. I first saw it from the London metro (where it’s highly sponsored!). I decided to create a similar effect in Photoshop.
As always, in Photoshop, there are several ways to create the same effect. If you want full control over your image, the best way is to directly paint the crack effect with Photoshop brushes and digital painting techniques. However, in this case I decided to follow the easiest way, and use custom brushes created from textures.
Let’s start by choosing a portrait image. I downloaded this model photo from Shutterstock, but any portrait will work fine.
The next step is to download the image of a crack on a wall. This photo of a grunge wall with crack is perfect.
Open the texture image in Photoshop, then hit shift+ctrl+U to desaturate it. We will use this image to create a custom Photoshop brush, this is why the first step was to switch the image colors to grayscale tones.
Now, since the only part we need is the crack, grab the crop tool, select the area of the crack and crop.
When saving a brush in Photoshop, we will save all the grayscale areas but not the white ones. So, to save only the crack, we need to increase the image contrast. Press ctrl+L to open the levels window, and move the arrows as shown in the screenshot below:
Grab a white round brush, and paint to clean up the image.
Go to Edit>Define Brush Preset and save your new custom brush.
Let’s switch to the portrait document in Photoshop. Create a new layer, then select your new brush from the brushes gallery and click once to paint.
How to rotate brushes and change their size? You can easily modify your brushes from the brushes option panel (Window>Brush). In this case, for example, I used the panel to flip the brush horizontally and resize it.
The crack effect is composed by 2 elements: the inner thin line (depth), and the visible concrete texture. The brush will be used to create the inner thin line, while the concrete texture effect will be created from scratch .
Create a new layer below the brush layer, and grab a round brush. Using the crack brush as reference, paint over it to create the areas that will be filled later with the concrete texture. The fill color is not important, since we will apply layer styles later, so choose a color that is easily visible. Title this layer “Texture area”.
Now that we have the base for the crack effect, hide the Texture area, grab the eraser tool and clean up the crack thin line.
To make the crack line more realistic, double click on its layer thumbnail to open the layer style window, then switch the color overlay to (#0a0a0a) and add a 1px white drop shadow. You will notice how the drop shadow, with the right settings, creates a subtle “depth” effect.
Make the Texture area layer visible, then open the layer styles window.
At first, switch the color overlay to a dark grey (#6e6e6e):
Then add the white drop shadow, as shown in the previous step:
Finally add a 1px inner shadow:
Adding the concrete texture is very simple. Create a new group above all the other layers. Set the group blending mode to overlay. Now, with the group still active, ctrl+click on Texture area layer to select its pixels and add a layer mask by pressing the Layer Mask icon button at the bottom of the layers window.
What’s the point of this step? We’ve set up the group so that every layer we put inside it will cover only the Texture area layer, and its blending mode will be automatically set to overlay.
Now that we have the group correctly set up, simply put a texture inside it. I used a concrete texture from our High resolution concrete textures set.
If you want to scale down the texture, press ctrl+T to activate the free transform tool and resize it.
We’ve finished guys! …and this is my result:
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